Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: The Return by Melissa Douthit

The Return
by Melissa Douthit
Publisher: Couronne Press (August 1, 2013
Series: Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, Book Three|
Available in: ebook, 300 Pages

See Melissa's Special Giveaway in the Author Bio below.

This is Book 3 in the YA trilogy The Legend of the Raie' Chaelia (rye - kale - ya).  Nearly two years ago I joined the tour for Book 2, The Firelight of Maalda and at that time was also given the first book and its prequels. A week before my tour review went up I discussed Book 1, The Raie' Chaelia, and its two prequel short stories.

In order to do a little compare and contrast with my reactions in January 2012, I'm going to begin by quoting myself from the Book 1 review as at the time I wrote it I'd already finished Firelight and was discussing the series as a whole or at least the 2/3 that existed then.

This fantasy trilogy has a lot going for it.  It is well plotted and the world building is extraordinary. The science under-girding it is impeccable   The main characters have depth and personalities that come alive on the page.  The dialog is more than competent with different characters having distinctive voices.
That said, there are a few areas that could do with some polishing.  The pacing within the scenes is often choppy with action and dialog being interrupted for too long with large chunks of description.  The information imparted at these times is interesting, even fascinating, and it furthers the plot and/or world building so it is not that it is fluff or filler just that it jars one out of the flow of the story.
The manuscript could do with a good line edit as well.  There are a number of sentences scattered throughout with missing or extra words, the kind of thing that happens when editing or rewriting a sentence and either leaving behind or removing a word or partial phrase unintentionally.  This is the kind of thing spell checkers can't find and they are also very difficult for the author to spot...
Before I take those paragraphs point by point, I want to apologize if the balance of this review weighs heavier on the analytical than a typical review.  I think it has to do with my mind set at the time I received the book.  I'd already started sorting through my own WIP trying to choose among them the one that would be my 2013 NaNoWriMo.  I was already leaning toward a sci/fant trilogy I began work on in my early 20s and remembering how impressed I was with Melissa's world building in the earlier books I was eager to take lessons from her--from both her trip-ups and her triumphs.

I was having a struggle trying to write a review that made no mention of my own WIP but my whole encounter with the story--insights, reactions, etc.--was just too entangled with my concurrent NaNo prep so I decided to fess up and go with it.

As I read The Return, Melissa's storyworld continued to be my favorite part of the experience. This is due as much to my own fascination with storyworld construction as to Melissa's talent at it--witness my 120 character, 8 generation and 16 to 20 unfinished novella to novel length stories FOS storyworld.  I admire Melissa's ability to keep the world building in its place and focus on getting the story told and hope to emulate so I do not let my new series go the same route.

The first paragraph of my quoted material above all holds true with Book 3.  The world building and undergirding science, character delineation and dialog all remain strong and even show significant growth.  I continue to be enthralled by this world and its characters and creatures and lore.  I wish there was more to come.

 In fact, though many of the issues I listed in the second and third paragraphs remain in play the improvement is immense.  Those moments where I would get jarred out of the story due to the pacing issues were rare this time and more like annoying nudges than disorienting jerks.  Thus I was more easily able to stay absorbed in the story.  Which was especially gratifying when it came to the developing relationship between Chalice and Jeremiah, their intense mutual love and respect for each other was my second favorite aspect and unlike in many fantasy stories the romance story was not just tacked on as a come-hither side plot but was the point on which the central plot pivoted.  I really loved how that played out.

As for the line editing I mentioned in the third paragraph, that too continues to be an issue but again, has been much improved.  Were I to guess I'd say well over 50% fewer sentences mangled by editing.  If the pace of Melissa's improvement continues she is going to be a force in the fantasy genre (or any other she wishes) before too long.  She most definitely has the gift of storytelling and I'm eager to follow her career.

From the Publishers:

After the fall from the Maaldan cliff, Chalice is reunited with her friends on a journey that takes them to the coastline of Ielieria.  Little do Vlaad and his Fierain know what is in store for them as, bit by bit, their plans are thwarted by this blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty.
The small band of rebels then travels across the Realm, preparing it for war, while Chalice herself is brewing plans of her own that may just land her in the hot seat.  What will happen when she returns her father to the throne?  What will happen when he finds out what she has done?  And … what will happen once Dar’Maalda learns of the rebels’ location?
In the third and final novel of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, you find out.  It is a dramatic finish to an epic story of action, adventure, betrayal, forgiveness and love.

What they are saying:

Praise for Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, Book One:
“Douthit’s love of words is apparent and her use of language highly inventive. She has a firm grip on believable dialogue.”-Kirkus Reviews“Lively, fast-paced and satisfyingly complex! Can’t wait for the second in the trilogy!”-Diane Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review“I really liked this book! If you love adventure books and romance books this is the story for you!!! First off, the romance between Jeremiah and Chalice is super cute! They are really such a good couple. I like how after all the time that they hadn’t seen each other they still had feelings for each other. I also loved Buney! He’s so cute, he reminds me of a little stuffed animal. As for the adventure, this book is full of it! There are many twists and turns throughout the book that always keeps you wanting more. This is an adventure that will definitely keep you reading with a little romance thrown into the mix also. I can seriously see this as a movie.”-Books Ahoy Website“This was SUCH an epic fantasy. I felt that same “childhood” feeling I’ve felt while reading countless fantasy books, such as C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkein.This story was so original! Loved everything about it. I fell in love with the characters, the setting was INCREDIBLE, and the background story was so magical. You immediately get pulled in by the mystery and the curious feeling you get that there’s more to this story…I really loved how Douthit described the scenery. I could imagine myself in the “ghost town” which Chalice travels to first, or the Chinuk village that they stay in overnight. Love the detail, you can really feel a part of the journey which Chalice and her friends take.The Raie’Chaelia is an amazing journey of which one girl, with the help of her friends, finds out about her past. The ending, was AMAZING. God, I really want to find out more now! That was such a big cliffhanger. The Firelight of Maalda, the second book, will be coming out in maybe around October 2011. Can’t wait!”Rabiah, I Live For Reading Website“I really enjoyed The Raie’Chaelia. I liked both Chalice and Jeremiah. Especially Jeremiah. I’m not really sure why I think so highly of Jeremiah other than he is just a really great guy and an incredibly likable character. Chalice is quite likable too although she did do a couple of things that I thought were a little silly at times. The supporting cast were all very cool too.The Raie’Chaelia is definitely a really intriguing story and I had a lot of fun reading through it.  I definitely enjoyed reading The Raie’Chaelia and I had a little sneak peak at the next book in the series in the back of The Raie’Chaelia and it definitely looks interesting. I really enjoyed The Raie’Chaelia and I think that any fans of fantasy would definitely enjoy it.”-Rebecca, Everything To Do With Books
Praise for The Firelight of Maalda, Raie’Chaelia, Book Two:
“What I really like about these books is the amount of fantasy. It reminds me of (and I know I said this in the review of the first book) childhood fantasy stories, like C.S. Lewis. Completely magical, and Douthit has really created a fantastic world. You don’t see that too much in YA these days.The romance in this book has improved since the last one! Chalice and Jeremiah develop even more from the first book, and I found it really sweet and not-rushed-into at all. The action and thrill of what’s to happen next is really amazing too. I had to keep reading to find out what happens next. I found that the story was great. Lovers of fantasy, with plenty of action, suspense and of course, the blooming romance, will definitely need to pick this one up. A great follow-up from the first book, this one will leave readers hanging on for more. Looking forward to reading book 3!” – Rabiah, I Live For Reading Website“The Firelight of Maalda: A story that unites the real with the fantastical and turns science into magic. It is a tale of intrigue and wonder where two opposite worlds collide in an explosive journey that leads Chalice and her friends to the dark islands lurking just beyond the horizon of Ielieria, where the Firelight of Maalda sits … and waits.This is a YA series for age 13 upwards. Having said that, I’m sure many ‘older’ readers will enjoy it as much as I did. The story continues the story begun in The RaieChaelia and reveals more of the characters and the wonderful world Melissa Douthit has created. I really enjoyed reading the first book, The Raie Chaelia, as well as the sequel.This story continues Chalice’s journey to fulfil her destiny, and the growing romance between her and Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah knew each other as children, and meet up again at the beginning of The Raie Chaelia. Their friendship has grown into something deeper and in The Firelight of Maalda both characters, but especially Chalice, have grown and matured emotionally and I found it particularly satisfying that their love is not only acknowledged but their sweet romance seems completely natural and uncontrived. There is a touching tenderness between them, they are both strong characters but neither feels complete without the other and their love and respect for each other shines through even when they are not entirely in agreement.There is a lot more to this story than romance though, there is plenty of action and suspense. There is a large cast of characters, and some of those from the first book make a welcome re-appearance. The story moves at a fast pace to the nail biting climax and a cliffhanger of an ending – I’m really glad Melissa gave us a taste of the next book to answer at least one of my questions, and I can’t wait for the third in the series.”-  Hywela Lyn Website“After reading The Raie’Chaelia last year I was so excited to be able to read the second book, The Firelight of Maalda. Needless to say, I loved The Firelight of Maalda just as much as I loved The Raie’Chaelia.The story was really good and I had a lot of fun learning more about the world and the goings on. There were the highs and lows in the book and I was really excited to see the return of some really awesome characters from the first book.Then there was the ending. Oh my goodness! I don’t want to spoil anything but can I just say, that is one huge cliffhanger. UGH! Can I have the next book now please?I absolutely love The Firelight of Maalda and the entire Raie’Chaelia series. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy story and I know I definitely can’t wait to continue the series.”- Rebecca, Everything To Do With Books

Melissa Douthit grew up in North County of San Diego, California. After graduating with a Computer Science degree in Southern California, and working for a summer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, she moved to the Bay Area to work at NASA Ames Research Center for a year and then at Lawrence Livermore National Lab for another four years. From there, she moved to Monterey, California, to work at the Naval Postgraduate School on a government project for two years.

She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, working as a software engineer. Since high school, she has been a voracious reader of books of all genres, with an emphasis in fantasy and science fiction. Her literary work is strongly influenced by her professional experience and includes many elements of her scientific background. You can find out more about Melissa on her website:

Melissa on Facebook
Melissa on Twitter
Book page
Amazon author page

Buy links to The Return:

Barnes and Noble

Melissa is having a contest for a free e-reader or $75 gift certificate to the Amazon bookstore.  All readers have to do is leave a comment on this post  and enter this Rafflecopter drawing

Follow the blog tour for more reviews, giveaways, author interviews and guest posts: 

So Many Precious books Oct 15 Spotlight & G
Peeking Through The Pages Oct  16 Interview  & Giveaway
DWED Oct 18 Review
JoyStory Oct 21 Review
BK Walker Books Oct 22 Interview
Hywela Lyn Oct 24 Review
Hywela Lyn Oct 25 Interview
MY Book Boyfriend Oct 29 Review
MY Book Boyfriend Oct 30 Interview
Wormhole Oct 31 Review
Wormhole Nov 1 Interview  & Giveaway
My Devotional Thoughts Nov 1 Review
My Cozy Corner Nov 4 Review
Ordinary Girlz Nov 5 Review
Serendipity Nov 6 Review
Teen Blurb Nov 7 Review
Teen Blurb Nov 7 Guest Post
Giveaways & Glitte Nov 8 Review & Giveaway
Two Kids & a Migraine Nov 12 Review
Butterfly-o-Meter Books Nov 13 Interview Tracy Riva Books & Reviews Nov 14 Review
Winterhaven Books Nov 18 Review
Roses & Beps Blog Nov 19 Guest Post  & G
Green Mountain Couple Nov 20 Review
No Wasted Ink Nov 20 Interview
Ashley's Bookshelf Nov 21 Review
Diane 's Book Blog Nov 22 Review
Diane 's Book Blog Nov 25 Guest Post  & Giveaway
Rhythempoets Nov 27 Review
Rhythempoets Nov 27 Interview

3 tell me a story:

Teddy Rose 10/21/2013 5:18 PM  

Thanks for the detailed review. I'm glad you enjoyed the series!

Melissa 10/21/2013 7:02 PM  

Thank you, Joy! What a great, detailed review! Thanks so much for participating in the tour!

Melissa 10/21/2013 7:19 PM  

I'm also taking lessons from you. :) I'm looking forward to your book when it's released!

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